Fairfax, Va. (September 13, 2017) — Virginia Cancer Specialists (VCS), a leading provider of advanced cancer care services and an affiliate of The US Oncology Network, has added an innovative new therapy to its service offerings for breast cancer patients who are concerned about hair loss during treatment. The Paxman Scalp Cooling System is a clinically proven non-drug treatment that greatly reduces chemotherapy-induced alopecia, or hair loss caused by chemotherapy. The safe, non-invasive treatment has been used throughout Europe and other countries on more than 100,000 patients with a variety of cancers, and it was recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by breast cancer patients in the U.S. Virginia Cancer Specialists is proud to be among the first oncology practices in the Northern Virginia Area to offer this new advanced therapy that can help breast cancer patients have a better patient experience and a more positive attitude about their treatment.
Chemotherapy-induced alopecia can be one of the most distressing and troublesome side effects cancer patients face, often impacting their self-esteem, body image, sexuality, and overall well-being. Patients also lose their privacy, as hair loss is commonly associated with cancer treatment. Scalp cooling therapy offers a viable solution, greatly reducing the amount of hair loss that can occur with some drug regimens.
Chemotherapy works by targeting all rapidly dividing cells in the body. Hair is the second fastest dividing cell, which is why many chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Scalp cooling reduces the damage chemotherapy causes to hair follicles by lowering the temperature of the scalp immediately before, during, and after chemotherapy. Cooling the scalp and keeping it at a constant cool temperature causes the blood vessels in the scalp to constrict, reducing blood flow to the area around the hair follicles, preventing or minimizing hair loss.
“Scalp cooling is a safe and relatively effective method for those receiving chemo for breast cancer who are concerned about hair loss during treatment,” said Neelima Denduluri, MD, oncologist with Virginia Cancer Specialists and associate chair of The US Oncology Network Breast Cancer Research Committee. “It helps women feel like they look similar to their peers in their everyday lives. We are excited to offer this as an option to women with breast cancer and potentially contribute to their overall sense of well-being and confidence.”
“I am extremely excited to bring this new therapy to our breast cancer patients, as hair loss can be a very traumatic experience, causing unnecessary anxiety and distress,” said Amy J. Irwin, MD, oncologist with Virginia Cancer Specialists and member of The US Oncology Network Breast Cancer Research Committee. “Scalp cooling gives our patients the opportunity to regain some level of normalcy, comfort and control in their lives, ensures some privacy, and helps women maintain a positive attitude about their treatment.”
The Paxman Scalp Cooling System utilizes a soft lightweight silicone cap that is placed on the patient’s head. As coolant from a small compact refrigeration system passes through the cap, it extracts heat from the scalp. Temperature sensors ensure the scalp is kept at an even, constant temperature. The single patient use cap is placed on the patient a half-hour before chemotherapy is administered and worn during infusion. It remains on the patient for a maximum of 90 minutes after the chemotherapy is completed, depending on the type of drugs given.
Clinical research has shown that scalp cooling is very effective across a wide range of chemotherapy regimens. A recent multicenter clinical trial found that among women with stage I and II breast cancer who received chemotherapy with taxane, anthracycline, or both, those who underwent scalp cooling were significantly more likely to have less than 50% hair loss after the fourth chemotherapy cycle than those who received no scalp cooling.1 Moderate hair loss of 30% to 50% is expected after using the cold cap. There is no guarantee scalp cooling will prevent all patients undergoing chemotherapy from losing any or all of their hair, as success rates vary from patient to patient, depending on the chemotherapy regimen administered.
Breast cancer patients who are interested in learning more about scalp cooling are encouraged to contact a clinical supervisor at any VCS site or VCS Director of Clinical Operations Marie Garcia, RN, OCN, at 703-208-3111. Also, visit www.VirginiaCancerSpecialists.com or www.PaxmanUSA.com for more information.
For more than 40 years, Virginia Cancer Specialists (VCS) has contributed to the campaign against cancer and diseases of the blood. VCS has nine locations throughout Northern Virginia staffed by highly-skilled physicians, each delivering exceptional care. The practice has built a world-class treatment team of cancer specialists, as well as acquiring the very latest treatment technology to help achieve the best outcomes for patients. VCS unites medical, radiation and orthopedic oncologists, hematologists, oncology nurse navigators, oncology infusion nurses, radiation therapists, genetic counselors, oncology pharmacists and laboratory technicians, all working together as a team to design the optimal multidisciplinary treatment program, efficiently sharing knowledge, executing the treatment plan, and providing a patient-centered, consumer-friendly approach to cancer care. Patients receive the full spectrum of high-quality care necessary to treat their disease from a care team united in their effort to provide each patient with the specific personalized care they need to battle cancer. The physicians at VCS have published more than 100 abstracts and papers over the last few years, and have been invited to present at national meetings. To learn more about Virginia Cancer Specialists, please visit www.VirginiaCancerSpecialists.com.
Virginia Cancer Specialists is an affiliate of The US Oncology Network (The Network). This collaboration unites VCS with more than 1,400 independent physicians dedicated to delivering value-based, integrated care for patients — close to home. Through The Network, these independent doctors come together to form a community of shared expertise and resources dedicated to advancing local cancer care and to delivering better patient outcomes. The US Oncology Network is supported by McKesson Specialty Health, whose coordinated resources and infrastructure allow doctors in The Network to focus on the health of their patients, while McKesson focuses on the health of their practices. VCS also participates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has played a role in approximately 70 FDA-approved cancer therapies, about one-third of all cancer therapies approved by the FDA to date. For more information, visit www.usoncology.com.